Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Chronicle of a Blood Merchant" by Yu Hua *****

  • Summer Read with Beth
  • Chinese author
  • Originally published in 1995
  • Considered one of the top 10 works of Chinese fiction
  • Review:  Xu Sanguan is an unforgettable character.  He is the chronicled blood merchant, who literally and figuratively gives his life's blood for his family.  Yu Hua wends this story beautifully, if starkly.  It is the tale of a man and his family, while simultaneously providing a window into a culture.  I found many facets of this novel to be quite striking. Having read several different Chinese authors, I am struck by the harsh familial culture in China.  Horrific verbal slurs can be slung at one another, along with physical harm.  However, it seems to be part and parcel of family life and does not necessarily lead to rifts.  I am struck by stories of people living through multiple regime changes in one lifetime, and the survival skills spawned by those experiences.  I have been fortunate to live in a country whose government has its issues, but whose basic values and expectations have remained static for over two hundred years. I am struck, as always, by the deep abiding love of family, of children for parents and vice versa.  Love rules above all.  Great book!

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